Asking Questions

Joe Cattoggio and Jaime Patriarca work a scene together inside the 'tombs' of Rediscover Records. Photo by Janus Theatre Company.

Joe Cattoggio and Jaime Patriarca work a scene together inside the 'tombs' of Rediscover Records. Photo by Janus Theatre Company.

A good play asks interesting questions and forces you to wrestle with ideas.

We’ve been working on the King of Shadows for more than three weeks now. We started this process as an ensemble collaborating together.

I like to open rehearsals up in ways where we ask lots of questions about what the play is about while working physically, experimenting through different exercises, some which may or may not reveal things hidden in the text.

You see, you can look at a play, read it, and feel you know everything there is to know about the characters and the story. But if you leave it there, your interpretation may be thin, and the story may never fully come to life. That’s why we explore the text and the world of the play much like the maze I described earlier.

And the more we rehearse, the more the play reveals itself to us. It’s like peeling an onion. And like peeling an onion, it can be difficult work, because rehearsals are messy encounters, where we fumble around and fall and find new ideas and discard old ones. It is all great stuff, and you have to be patient.

***

The King of Shadows is an exciting script. It plays with a lot of ideas about how we think about contemporary issues.

While the play feels at times like a procedural cop drama/mystery/horror/thriller, we’ve tried to break it down into some basic ideas but framed as questions:

  • Does social work make a difference or is it a waste of taxpayer money?
  • Should police serve and protect or enforce and defend?
  • How far would you go to pursue your dreams if it meant losing your family?
  • Is there magic in the world or is everything we call reality just what we see?

Sounds heavy, doesn’t it? But it really isn’t once you start asking these questions and figure out how they relate to the play and our world.

And when add to that rehearsals conducted in lofts, galleries, and tombs, you start to get a feel for the mysteries hidden in the play, waiting to be revealed, discovered in front of a live audience. Or at least that’s the goal we set for ourselves.